We’re rapidly approaching the 2020 NFL Draft, so we turned to our staff to see what their expectations are for Round 1 of tonight’s spectacle, and what would make us happiest. Here are our reactions.
Stay put and prosper
Would I love to have Chase Young on this Falcons team? You bet. Am I chomping at the bit to pair Grady Jarrett with Javon Kinlaw? Hoo boy, you know it. Would I love to see what Dan Quinn and company would do with Isaiah Simmons, even if I’m not convinced that’d be the most successful experiment in the world? Yes sir.
For all that, what would really make me happy is if the Falcons stood pat. Assuming the world returns to normal at some point—or close enough to “normal” to get us back live sports—the Falcons will be better off putting together a six-or-seven-man class with a heavy emphasis on defense over the long haul than they will be swinging for the fences with one guy. After all, they still have a number of holes on this roster that you can’t reasonably expect to fill just with players already on the team, and that’s just for this year. Imagine what happens a year from now, when the cap situation is going to look pretty tight all over again.
Chances are you can get a quality defender at #16 or even later, and then methodically hit points of weakness with quality players in every round after that. The Falcons are up against two NFC South teams pushing their chips into the middle of the table, but they should realize that contending this year doesn’t have to come at the expense of being a good team down the line. It’s time to be savvy and just a little bit safe. —Dave Choate
Trade back and build depth
I’m in the same boat as Dave when it comes to wanting the big and exciting names on defense such as Chase Young, Javon Kinlaw, and Isaiah Simmons.
Atlanta is not one defensive player away, however. instead, they have a number of holes to fill throughout the team. They need to find starters at linebacker and cornerback, and to build depth at guard (ideally, someone who can slot in at center when Alex Mack retires), safety, and along the defensive line. The best way of doing this is to trade back in the first round and build draft capital.
The Falcons could still come away with a sufficient starting CB, LB, or edge rusher (depending on how the draft shakes out) while adding an extra third or even second round pick (a few of those WR needy teams could slightly overpay if one of Jeudy, Lamb, or Ruggs falls to 16). That extra pick would presumably turn into a valuable contributor along the defense (or at guard) in year one.
This is an absolute fantasy, however, as I know that Thomas Dimitroff would rather give up hair gel than have to trade back in the first round of any draft no matter the circumstances. —Adnan Ikic
Go all in!
I may be in the minority here, but I really, really want the Falcons to move up for Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. I always take the time to read the comments on most of our website’s articles, and I know you all know what a generational talent Chase Young is. You guys have all been following along with us through these troubling times and hopefully our staff has distracted you, even if just for a little while.
With that being said, and please hear me out. I know it’s going to cost near a fortune to make a move like this with Washington. But in my opinion, we are living in the best of times. We not only have the franchises best quarterback in its 54-year history, we also have its best wide receiver. I understand that one man doesn’t make a team, but a talent like Young will certainly help for the foreseeable future. We haven’t had a serious pass rusher that we could rely on since John Abraham left following the 2012 season. It was reported that the Falcons at minimum discussed trading up with Washington, and it remains to be seen what actually happens come draft time. Enjoy the draft, my friends. — Evan Birchfield
Give me Chase Young
Yes, I know it will sacrifice this draft class and big chunks of the next to make it happen, but I’m so tired of this team not having a premier pass rusher. I’m not arguing that we can’t get some good players if we stay put. I’m also not arguing that we don’t have a bunch of holes to patch. Both of those statements are true. I just want someone to terrorize opposing QBs for the next decade. - David Walker
Go big or go BPA to improve on last year’s team
Would fans be excited if the Falcons landed Chase Young? You betcha. Would fans be excited to add a lot of new cheap, young players? Oh yeah. I don’t think there is a wrong answer between the two. If the Falcons still have a Super Bowl window, I’m happy to mortgage the future if it means adding a player who should have an immediate impact like Young or Isaiah Simmons. Pair Young across from Dante Fowler, Jr., and suddenly I’m less concerned with depth issues on the defense. BUT, if the Falcons can’t get a player with that immediate impact, I say sit back, or even trade back, and maximize what you can get. The team needs more cheap, young players to balance out an aging, expensive, top-heavy roster.
The only way to go wrong is trading up for a player that won’t provide a clear improvement over last year’s team. Can CJ Henderson play better this year than Desmond Trufant? I don’t think so, so why would you trade up for a downgrade? At that point, the Falcons should have just reworked Trufant’s deal. I don’t really care who is better in 2024 because this team will certainly be in rebuilding mode. - Matt Chambers
Stay put at Pick 16 and land Javon Kinlaw
An Atlanta Falcons fan being happy about a draft pick is an exact science of reckless hope, player match, draft status, picks given or added via a trade and general distrust in any and all things the team, as so to protect your heart from any more devastation or disappointment. Or at least that’s how I process it.
Trading up would cost a lot, and could potentially even cost them 2021’s first-round pick. No one wants that inherently; can a guy like Chase Young, Jeff Okudah or Isaiah Simmons really put the defense over the edge? It’s possible, but you’re guaranteed to at least somewhat take it in the chin down the road.
Let’s say this dream scenario happens: they stay at 16, and South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw slides down the board to them. They take him quickly and pair him with Grady Jarrett. Kinlaw’s a bit raw and may not make a big impact on Day 1, but as he grows and improves, it should be an excellent interior tandem for the team for a good while. We’d all be happy with that, right? I think that’d make me the happiest? Okay, either this or Young/Okudah/Simmons. I’m not that hard to please. Just no offensive tackle.- Cory Woodroof
Do the unthinkable: trade down from 16
Now, obviously if a great player remains on the board at 16 (Javon Kinlaw, C.J. Henderson), you take them without question. But let’s assume that Atlanta’s attempts to trade up for their top options fizzle out for one reason or another, and the board falls in an unfavorable way at 16. If the Falcons top choices are gone, it means someone has fallen at another position. Whether that’s OT, WR, or QB, there will almost certainly be a player at 16 that a team in the 20s wants to jump up and get.
We won’t be talking about a huge bounty of picks, but Atlanta could easily get an additional second-rounder or perhaps even two third-rounders out of a small trade back into the early 20s. A bigger trade back would be riskier, but could potentially net even more. The sweet spot is likely in the early 20s (21-24), where the Falcons could still pick up an impact CB or DT and gain some extra Day 2 ammunition. This would probably be the most popular move, and also the best option long-term.
However, I don’t think Dimitroff is likely to do this. He’s never been big on trading down in the first round. I expect the Falcons to actually do the opposite and trade up for “their guy”, whoever that is. My gut feeling is Isaiah Simmons, but it could easily be a blockbuster move for Chase Young or Jeffrey Okudah. - Kevin Knight